EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 23/52/95
UA 204/95 Fear for Safety 21 August 1995
COLOMBIA Gloria FLÓREZ (f)
Pedro J. REY
and other members of MINGA human rights organization
There is serious concern for the safety of members of the non-governmental
human rights organization MINGA, after a telephoned death threat was received
at its headquarters in Bogotá.
The threat was made on 18 August 1995 at 1:50pm by an unidentified woman who
said "se van a morir hijueputas." - "you are going to die sons-of-bitches."
The death threat comes shortly after three people from the MINGA office in
Bogotá, Gloria Flórez, Fernando González and Pedro J.Rey, were detained by
members of the Unidad Anti-secuestro y Extorsión (UNASE), Anti-kidnapping and
Extortion Unit, on 4 August 1995, in Aguachica, department of Cesar. Without
explaining the reasons why, UNASE agents took the three human rights activists
back to UNASE headquarters, where they demanded to see their identity documents
in order to ascertain whether they had a criminal record. The three were
released after several hours.
Despite President Samper's repeated pledges of his government's commitment
to protect human rights and tackle impunity, members of the Colombian armed
and security forces, together with their paramilitary allies, continue to commit
serious violations with virtual impunity. Trade unionists, popular leaders,
civic activists and human rights workers are amongst those frequently targeted.
Only in exceptional circumstances are perpetrators brought to justice; the
vast majority of members of the armed forces responsible for gross human rights
violations remain in active service.
Human rights lawyers and members of human rights organizations are increasingly
at risk in Colombia, despite presidential promises to ensure their safety.
On 9 September 1994, President Samper declared in a speech that his government
"would seek to have constructive relations with human rights organizations
with the aim of suppressing human rights violations and would do everything
necessary to protect the lives and the integrity of their members" ("Buscará
sostener con los organismos de derechos humanos relaciones constructivas en
procura de suprimir las violaciones de tales derechos y pondrá de su parte
cuanto sea necesario para proteger la vida y la integridad de sus miembros").
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in SPANISH or your own language:
- express concern at the reported death threat of 18 August 1995 against members
- calling for an immediate and thorough investigation into the threat, the
results of which should be made public and those responsible brought to justice;
- urging that in line with President Samper's declared commitment to protect
the lives of human rights defenders, all possible measures, deemed appropriate
by those working with MINGA, be taken to protect them.